After spending a day or two in the library at Geneva, looking up M. Thury’s references, with respect to various ice-caves, and trying to discover something more than he had found in the books there, I started for Annecy at seven in the morning in the banquette of the diligence. On a fresher day, no doubt the great richness of the orchards and corn-fields would have been very striking; but on this particular morning the fields were already trembling with heat, and the trees and the fruit covered with dust; and there was nothing in the grouping of the country through which the road lay to refresh the baked and half-choked traveller. The voyage was to last four and a half hours, and it soon became a serious question how far it would be possible to face the heat of noon, when the earlier morning was so utterly unbearable.
Before very long, a counter-irritant appeared in the shape of a fellow-traveller, whose luggage consisted of a stick and an old pair of boots. The man was not pleasant to be near in any way, and he was evidently not at all satisfied with the amount of room I allowed him. He kept discontentedly and doggedly pushing his spare pair of boots farther and farther into my two-thirds of the seat, and once or twice was on the point of a protest, in which case I was prepared to tell him that as he filled the whole banquette with his smell, he ought in reason to be satisfied with less room for himself; but instead of speaking, he brought out a tobacconist’s parcel and began to open it. Tobacco-smoke is all very well under suitable circumstances, but it is possible to be too hot and dusty and bilious to be able to stand it, and I watched his proceedings with more of annoyance than of resignation. The parcel turned out, however, to be delightful snuff, tastefully perfumed and very refreshing; and the politeness with which the owner gave a pinch to the foreign monsieur, after apportioning a handful to the driver and conductor, won him a good three inches more of seat. The inevitable cigar soon came; but it was a very good one, and no one could complain: all the same, I could not help feeling a malicious satisfaction when the douaniers on the French frontier investigated the spare boots—guiltless, one might have thought, of anything except the extremity of age and dirt—and drew from them a bundle or two of smuggled cigars, the owner trying in vain to look as if he rather liked it.
The Hotel de Geneve is probably the least objectionable of the hotels of Annecy; but the Poste-bureau is at the Hotel d’Angleterre, and it was much too hot for me to fight with the waiters there, and carry off my knapsack to another house. It is generally a mistake—a great mistake—to sleep at a house which is the starting-place and the goal of many diligences. All the night through, whips are cracking, bells jingling, and men are shouting hoarsely or blowing hoarser horns. Moreover, the Hotel d’Angleterre had apparently needed